Over the last year, IBOC technology developer Ibiquity Digital has substantially improved the consumer end of the digital radio equation through improvements in HD Radio receiver selection, personal portability and price points. At the same time, however, yet another sticking point in the supply-side of HD Radio's adoption process materialized: After adoption by roughly 2,000 broadcast outlets nationwide, the pace of new HD Radio station conversions has slowed to a relative trickle. Although much of the blame for the slackening place can be attributed to an industry-wide economic downturn so severe that even the largest radio groups were haunted by the specter of bankruptcy, a modest upturn in revenues in first quarter 2010 could set the stage for more commitment to IBOC digital from broadcasters.
In an attempt to thaw the pipeline and expand the HD Radio content horizon for consumers, iBiquity has announced its launch of a new a new pricing plan that includes reduced license fees and expanded payment options designed to "simplify radio broadcasters' migration to digital."
The new pricing model offers broadcasters three different options. Stations can pay a one-time license fee to broadcast digitally on their main channel, electing one of the following options:
Enclose payment in full with signed contract: $10,500
Invoice next business month standard net 30 terms: $11,000
12 automatic electronic payments: $12,500 ($1,042/month)
While the new plan does not affect other parts of the HD license fee structure, such as additional per-channel fees for multicast channels, it does represent a substantial up-front savings over iBiquity's previous licensing price points.
Whether this latest incentive coupled with a mild recovery will be enough to motivate the next tier of broadcasters to make an investment in IBOC is yet to be seen, but the 2010 NAB Show, now just eight weeks off, is certain to provide a bellwether.